In Project Bloom, many students have focused on discussing campus accessibility or accessibilty at sporting events. I wanted to focus on something a little different . If you have been following our blog you can see that we have spent a lot of time focusing on accessibility in terms of a wheelchair. While yes, this is a very important way to see accessibility, it goes beyond just a wheelchair. One form of accessibility that I would like to focus on is gender neutral bathrooms.
Hayden DePorter, a current law student at The University of Denver, who is gender-binary who has become an advocate for creating more gender neutral bathrooms on their campus. During our interview DePorter said; “Allowing people to use the bathroom without fear of harassment or discrimination is a basic human right everyone should be afforded”. No one should go into the bathroom fearing that they will be discriminated against for their sexual orientation. But there has been a lack of awareness to creating more gender neutral bathrooms but awareness are recently been growing tremendously!
“Multiple states, counties, and cities have passed laws mandating that single occupant bathrooms be changed to gender neutral bathrooms and have added more gender neutral bathrooms. I think this is a big step in the right direction, but it needs to continue and become more widespread” said DePorter.
Currently, there are 18 states who have put in place laws that would protect transgender individuals against discrimination. These laws says that people cannot be discriminated from jobs, housing or public accommodations because of their sexual orientation . One the most recent states who has put this law into place, was Vermont, making it a requirement that in all public accommodations make all single- use bathrooms gender-neutral.
In a survey that was recently put out by the National Center for Transgender Equality, found that 59 percent of the respondents reported that they have avoided going into a restroom in last year. Many of them said the reason that they avoided using the restroom is because they were afraid of the issues they might encounter.
Currently on Saint Joe’s campus there are 40 gender neutral bathrooms. These restrooms can be found in academic buildings, dorms and administrative buildings. Back in 2015, SJU Pride advocated for the school to make more gender neutral bathrooms. From this advocacy the school was able to create 36 gender neutral bathrooms. The most recent gender neutral bathroom that was added, was one in the library on the first floor. The Hawk Newspaper, wrote an article about adding this gender neutral bathroom. Previously, students would have to ask for a key to use the gender neutral bathroom in the bathroom in the basement.
Although Saint Joe’s has made huge improvements in adding gender neutral bathrooms, there is still work that needs to be done. Not only on Saint Joseph’s campus but also all over the world. Accessibility needs to be for everyone, not just one person or group of people. There are a few things that we all need and a safe place to use the restroom is one of them.